The evolution of Miley. She’s given us teen popstar, she’s given us boisterous wild child, she’s teased us with heartbreak showstopper – and now she’s given us Plastic Hearts. You could say it includes a Blondie cover and a Stevie Nicks remix and be done with it – but there’s so much more to unpack in this fierce 80s punk x country roots album of anthems and ballads alike.
It feels like the album Cyrus was supposed to make all along. A highly reflective body of work, it draws on the highs, the lows, breakup, rebellion and sexuality that was glamorised so viciously before the public eye, as well as caricaturing the mum-and-dad rock influences we all know and love at the family party.
‘WTF Do I Know’ struts out in front, presumably in leather and Doc Martens, and gives us a peak and what’s in store on the rest of the record – albeit through pop-tinted spectacles. Similar threads are woven throughout, like badass ‘Gimme What I Want’ and overnight hit ‘Prisoner’ featuring Dua Lipa, which are maybe what Cyrus needs to keep up with her chart counterparts, but equally don’t detract from the gravel of the album.
Cyrus keeps it rough around the edges on tracks like title number ‘Plastic Hearts’ and chart sensation ‘Midnight Sky’ which are both laced with eyeliner and 70s grit through and through, signalling the influences flirted with later on the bonus tracks. Collaborations ‘Night Crawling’ and ‘Bad Karma’ share all the essence of ‘White Wedding’ and ‘I Love Rock ‘N Roll’, respectively, as Miley shares the mic with Billy Idol and Joan Jett (yep, she’s got everyone involved).
It’s the softer, countrified moments which really elevate this album to something significant.
The transparency of ‘Never Be Me’ and the Tennessee homecoming of ‘Angels Like You’ bring a real earthiness to this power record. Tender highlights are invigorated with that husky tone which brings an undeniable warmth to vulnerable windows in ‘High’, ‘Hate Me’ and “Golden G String’, in which Cyrus bares all of the layers of ‘primal sex and primal shame’ which she was told to cover but ‘went the other way’.
Fine, let’s talk about the covers. If you’re collabing with Stevie Nicks on a celebrated decades-old hit, I think you’ve pretty much nailed it. Along with a stunningly ferocious ‘Heart of Glass’ cover and the dark rendition of cult Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’, the album finale is something to behold, and, with so much to offer and so much more to give, Miley is certainly at the top of everyone’s sound of 2020. Her incredible voice is the shining star, and one thing’s for sure: it’ll make a great silver-screen phenomenon in years to come.
Words by Yasmin Duggal.